Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review: The Tap Inn, Adelaide, South Australia

Accompanying James and I for 2 weeks of our time in Australia was Chris, James’ cousin.  Before meeting up with us he had been diving at the Great Barrier Reef and exploring Sydney.  When he arrived in Adelaide to meet us he explained that he’d been recommended an Adelaide pub by an Australian guy living in Sydney as ‘the best pub in Australia’!  You can probably guess by it’s name that it has a golf theme?!  Well the novelty about this pub is that it has an indoor driving range and various golf related memerobillia around.  So if you are an avid golfer or fan then do visit The Tap Inn!

We went along for an afternoon and had a drink and some nibbles and a few hits at golf.  It is quite a large venue with different areas to sit in.  A popular feature are the two sets of toilets (?!!), one which is situated at the end of the driving range and where you can see the action from the toilet!  The other, more impressive, are glass doored toilets which are see-through until you lock the door and the glass clouds up!

Food wise it was ok but nothing to rave about.  It looked impressive, but didn’t taste as good as it looked.  However, we were able to sample crocodile here which was quite exciting for us – and we really enjoyed that dish.  Overall, good fun for a novelty visit but unless you are a keen golfer you probably wouldn’t visit on a regular basis!  I would go for just drinks also rather than food.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Review: Woodstock Winery, McLaren Vale, South Australia

In addition to all the cafes in McLaren Vale town there are a multitude of winery’s to eat at too.  These tend to be slightly pricier but are stunning locations for a meal, easy to relax at, you get to sample wines, and eat tasty food!

Kyra and I met up with Caroline and her daughter Mia for lunch at the Woodstock Winery one sunny afternoon for a catch up and nibbles.  We had a great lunch outside in the garden of the winery.  The staff are really attentive here and there is a great menu selection to choose from.  We went for a couple of platters to share which were delicious.  The platters contained a selection of local meats, brie, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, marinated mushrooms, pate, fruits, the list goes on...!  Our only complaint would be that we could have done with more bread for some of the dips and oil.

The restaurant really suits parents with children as there is space for them to explore safely and within eyesight.  Ever since I have known Caroline we have both shared a passion for food!  When living in Colorado we used to go and try different restaurants together often, and in Thailand on holiday a few years ago we also enjoyed some tasty food together so I was excited to hear that she has also begun her own food blog recently which already has some tasty reviews up – so do visit 'The Eatery by CK'.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Review: The Tin Shed Café, McLaren Vale, South Australia

After a morning of wine tasting(!) in the McLaren Vale region we went for a late lunch on the main street in the town.  First we tried to go to Market 190 as Kyra said it had really good food however, when we arrived it was packed and the wait was over an hour so we moved on.  It was a similar story in a couple of other cafes – this is certainly a popular eating area!

We managed to get a table at The Tin Shed Café eventually though which was really tasty so we were happy!  The café has a really relaxed feel to it with seating area’s both inside and out.  All the food coming out looked delicious so it was hard to select just one thing!  Kyra and I decided to go for salt and pepper squid and the bruschetta which came with smoked salmon and share the two.  The boys ordered a burger and sandwich.  All the food was beautifully presented and were very decent sized portions. The salt and pepper squid was actually calamari however, we weren’t too disappointed as it was cooked perfectly and there was plenty of it.  The bruschetta was a really superb mix of flavours and the boys enjoyed their food too.

If you go to McLaren Vale for lunch then there are plenty of places to choose from and it sounds like you wont be disappointed anywhere.  I can definitely recommend The Tin Shed Café as one place to try.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Food Glossary: Dukkah

When I return to the UK Dukkah is certainly something I am going to be searching for!  Being in Australia is the first time I have heard of and tried it, so for those of you like me who don’t know what it is read on!

Dukkah is a mix of seeds and spices which is served with fresh bread and oil.  We first sampled it whilst visiting some of the many winery’s in McLaren Vale – one of South Australia’s youngest wine regions. After devouring the whole bowl of bread and oil available to sample with the different dukkah’s we decided to buy a couple!  We tried the chilli and original ones and were not disappointed!  Dukkah can be used in other ways such as for a crust on meat or fish also so if you can get hold of some try it and be creative with it!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Review: Café Blue, Moana Beach, South Australia

From Santiago, Chile we flew to Adelaide, Australia to spend some time with two friends I met whilst studying in Colorado in 2004/5.  We stayed with the lovely Kyra who I hadn’t seen in 6 years!!  Kyra, her brother Micheal and their cute cute cat, Oli, kindly put up with us for a couple of weeks and showed us around South Australia.  

We spent our first week camping at Moana beach, down on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  From there we visited different places along the coast and embraced the aussie lifestyle by drinking iced coffee and beer, eating pies and BBQ’s and soaking up the sun, sea and surf!

Café Blue is a café right on the beach front at Moana itself.  At first glance it reminded me of one of the many seaside cafes in England, however going in I was surprised that it was so expensive!  This was our first exposure to how expensive Australia has become – especially as the dollar is so strong at the moment.  We paid roughly $AUS 18/20 for a breakfast that morning – ouch!  Luckily the food was really really good and large portions so this made it better!  I had eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of ham, and James and Chris had the large breakfast.  This is a nice café to go for a breakfast or lunch in the area, but probably not somewhere for every day on a camping break!

Review: Café del Museo, Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile really is a nice city and was a great place to spend our last 5 days in South America.  We really chilled out here, staying at a great new hostel - the Landay Barcelo Hostel with friendly locals working there.  Most of the time we made use of the facilities and cooked meals as the budget still needs to last and prices are expensive here for a backpacker!

On the day of our flight out of South America we ate lunch out as we wondered around Barrio Lastarria.  Close by to the Cerro Santa Lucia we found the Café del Museo which is a lovely small café on a small square with some other cafes.  The food here was fresh, and really scrumptious.  The quiche I ordered was one of the nicest I’ve ever eaten – so rich in flavour.  I was quite shocked actually!  The sandwiches were delicious also.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Review: La Herradura Bar/Restaurant, Casablanca, Chile

In November 2008 I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity – a charity that builds simple, decent and affordable houses to low-income families around the world with the help of global volunteers and supporters.  The project I worked on was in Casablanca, Chile (56 miles out of Santiago).  This is where I met my boyfriend James and so we thought it would be nice to re-visit the families we helped build houses for 2 years ago.

We took a bus out to Casablanca from Santiago and decided to have a walk around the town first and revisit some of the sites we remembered from staying here before.  Upon seeing the little bar/restaurant where we had spent many afternoons after building we decided to go in for lunch.

The place had had some changes but was still the same really.  The inside doesn’t really match the outside and still hasn’t had any work done to it which it could do with!  But the staff are still friendly and the food great - with a home cooked feel.

We had the set (almuerzo) menu although there were a few options.  The food was absolutely delicious and the portions were huge.  I can't remember the names of the dishes unfortunately but I had a huge salad plate with a sort of meat loaf - the meat was really beautifully flavoured and perfectly cooked.  As with all almuerzo's I had a soup before hand and a dessert after.  I walked away not needing any more food that day!  James had a tasty beef stew/broth and the meat fell apart as he ate it...hmmm!

If you are in Santiago or heading to Vina del Mar then do pay a visit to Casablanca as it is on the bus route between these two cities.  It's a really sweet little town with a few market stalls in the square and a few little shops dotted around.  The people are very friendly here and the surroundings are stunning. There are some exceptional vineyards in the region famous for their chardonnay's in particular. These are definitely worth checking out, and of course do visit La Herradura for a fulfilling, hearty meal.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Food Glossary: Pastel de Choclo

Pastel de Choclo is a popular dish with Chileans, and it translates to corn/maize stew.  It is quite difficult to describe so bare with me!  It is most similar to a shepherds pie but made from corn instead of potatoes, and with some additions!  There was a decent sized piece of chicken at the bottom, surrounded with a minced beef and onion mix, you could also find an olive and half a hard boiled egg (very common in South American foods).  The dish was quite tasty but I found it very sweet (again quite a feature of South American foods!)  I would definitely recommend trying this dish if you can.

I sampled this traditional dish at Bar Nacional which was popular with locals eating this dish!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Review: Navimag, Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt, Chile

There are not many options for those wishing to travel from the south of Chile to the centre and so many chose to travel on the Navimag ferry through the Patagonian fjords from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt. The trip takes 3 nights/2 days and varies in cost depending on what type of cabin you chose.  We paid around £200 for the cheapest option, but were actually upgraded to our own room! (woo!)

During your trip on board there are a variety of interesting talks on the fjords, history and culture of Chile. There was a really interesting session on Chilean Spanish which is quite different to Spanish spoken in other parts of South America.

During our trip the weather was grey and rainy so we were unfortunate and unable to see a lot of the beauty of the areas we travelled through.  We did however stop at a magnificent glacier which was just amazing to see.

On board you are certainly looked after and fed so much food!  With three good meals a day by the time you get off board you are desperate for some kind of exercise to work it all off!  The food was really good, and there was always a vegetarian option which was quite interesting.  I would recommend taking your own drinks on board as it makes the trip much cheaper for you.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Food Glossary: Pisco Sours

Ahhhh, pisco sours!  I first sampled this fantastic cocktail when visiting Chile in 2008 on a Habitat for Humanity house build project.  On my return to Chile in 2010 I was keen to have another authentic one as those I had tried in the UK just did not match up.

Pisco sours is made from pisco, lemon or lime juice, egg whites, syrup and bitters.  Interestingly both Chile and Peru claim it as their national drink and so there remains debate over its origins.  To be honest, I don't really mind where it has come from, I'm just happy it exists!  A trip to either Peru or Chile should definitely  include a sample of the drink!  (be warned though it is very strong!)

Review: Afrigonia, Puerto Natales, Chile

After a very long day, setting out at 5.30am from El Calafate in Argentina and spending the day in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile we arrived in the small town of Puerto Natales at about 10pm.  All ravenous, we headed straight out to get food and went with the hostel’s recommendation to save time searching.

Afrigonia is a small fusion restaurant owned by a Chilean/African couple which means there are some quirky elements to the menu.  The small restaurant is really cosy and has a warming atmosphere.  The menu has a decent selection and we were all very pleased with our choices.

Before the mains they bring you small warm bread dough balls with an incredible dip where the African influence is recognisable.  In addition there were crunchy corn-like snacks and plantain crisps.  For our mains we chose salmon with prawns, the rack of lamb and the steak.  The dishes are served beautifully and portion sizes good.  Two side dishes between three of us were plenty and none of us could manage desert at the end.  This was the first meal out since our last disappointing one in Argentina (as we had been cooking for ourselves) and it really was superb.  I don’t think you could be disappointed in this welcoming restaurant.  

A Cooking Lesson: Cat and Euan’s Argentinian Empanadas

After a few days in Buenos Aires with mixed results at restaurants and spending more money than we could sustain we decided to cook dinner for a couple of nights.  We wanted to try something typical so decided to attempt empanadas – the Argentinian snack available at every street corner and café you visit!

We had enjoyed a fun taxi journey with a really friendly local who loved chatting to us about all the foods we had tried across South America.  This conversation led us to empanadas which in turn led him to an in-depth description of how to prepare and cook your own!  So we were fully prepared to give it a go!

We headed to ‘Disco’ supermarket and easily bought all the ingredients.  We had taken his advice on the amounts needed for 4 people….now let’s just say I’m not sure how large these 4 people were he described but we cooked enough to feed at least 40 people!!  However, empanadas are the perfect snack to cook for a party or even to freeze a few so I wouldn’t worry too much about the amounts.  If you don’t want so many on your hands then half the ‘carne’ (meat) ingredient amounts listed here.  We made 4 different fillings and added some ingredients not traditionally used into some of them, so be creative and try your own mix too.  When locals sampled our empanadas we got excellent feedback, except some were a little spicy for them (in Argentina food is fairly bland)!

I hope you have as much fun as we did cooking empanadas.


  • Ready prepared empanada pastry circles (if you cannot find these then a roll of puff pastry will be fine cut into small circles by using a side plate)
  • 3 Eggs (one for glazing)
  • 1 tub of fresh green olives 250g
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 kilo minced beef (you could just get 500g and this would be plenty!)
  • 250g cheese
  • 1 packet ham
  • Basil
  • 2 tins tuna
  • Mix of spices - dependent on your personal preference but we used a mix of paprika, chilli flakes, oregano and cumin (some use cinnamon)

1.  Hard boil all eggs except one which you will need for glazing, whisk this one.  Once they are ready and peeled chop them into small pieces and leave on a plate.

2.  Finely chop the garlic, onions, pepper, olives, tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.

3.  Grease some trays ready for the empanadas to be baked in the oven on.

4.  Set the oven to 180/200.

Tuna mix
1.  Drain the tuna and empty into a large bowl.  Mix in some of the olives, garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes leaving enough for the meat mixes.

2.  Tear some basil leaves into the mix and stir together.

Ham and Cheese (Jamon y Queso – VERY POPULAR COMBINATION IN ARGENTINA) mix 
1.  Tear up the ham and cheese into squares.

Cat and Euan’s ‘Carne uno y dos’ mix
1.  Fry off some onions and garlic and then add the minced beef.

2.  Sprinkle in the spices – to your preference.

3.  Add the pepper and olives to the mix.

4.  Split the mix in half at this point and put half into another pan on the heat.

5.  With the second mix add tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes.

6.  Cook both until the flavours have set in and the tomatoes in the second have broken down slightly but not totally.

Assembly of the empanadas

You will need a large surface or table to sit down at to prepare the empanadas.

For the Tuna and 'carne' mixes 

1.  Take an empanada pastry circle in your hand and put one spoon of carne or tuna mix in the middle.

2.  Add a piece of the egg in the middle.

3.  Fold the empanada in half ensuring no filling seeps out of the sides.  You will need to fold over the edges to produce the plait effect around the edges.  This will ensure your mix will not come out whilst it is cooking (this happened to a few of our earlier ones as shown in the picture below!).  To do this simply pull a small amount of pastry over and pinch into the empanada.

4.  Place your empanada onto the tray.  When the tray is full glaze with egg and cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.


For the ham and cheese

1. Take the empanada pastry circle and place on some squares of cheese, ham, some pieces of sundried tomato and some basil leaves.

2.  Fold in the same way as explained above.

3.  Place your empanada onto the tray.  When the tray is full glaze with egg and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations and tips

  • In some of the carne and tuna empanadas we also added a square or 2 of cheese which was also tasty.
  • When cooking the empanadas have all the same type on one tray as the cheese and ham for example do not take as long as the carne to cook!
  • Try eating when they are still warm and they are delicious.  

Friday, 18 March 2011

Review: La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Cabrera has an enviable reputation in Buenos Aires and has even built a second over-flow restaurant due to its popularity so on our last evening in the city we decided to see what all the fuss was about.
You either need to make a booking or arrive for 10pm onwards where they have a waiting list.  When we arrived just before 10 on a Sunday evening the waiting list was already pretty large but as we’d made the effort to go we decided to stay and wait.  Plus with this many people waiting it must be good food!
Whilst you wait you are poured a glass of champagne which is quite nice!  The staff on the door were given a bit of a hard time by impatient people waiting but they were very nice and handled it well.  I think sometimes there was confusion around who had been waiting longer for a table but overall it was managed well.

We waited about an hour to be seated so by this time we were really hungry.  We ordered a starter to share which was really tasty but we were sadly disappointed with our main meals.  The steak comes on a large dish with a great number of accompaniments which is definitely good and there are some really interesting bits to try.  I actually sent my steak back as it was just completely flavourless and watery.  The chef offered to cook me another, the best cut of steak in his opinion with the most flavour which was good, and when it came it was much nicer, however, I still would not rave about the steak we had here.

When you have heard so much about a place being good its more of a disappointment however, we have friends who also visited during their stay who loved the steak so we could have just had a bad evening.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Review: Sabor Tango, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is the home of Tango dance.  Throughout our travels we have tried to learn a bit of latino dance including salsa and merengue so we thought we’d give tango a go!  Although it is a very touristy thing to do in Buenos Aires I think its worth going to see a Tango show as there really are some amazing dancer’s and its something I have never seen much of.

We went with one of the larger shows, at Sabor Tango, were you get a dance class, a meal and the show.  The dance class was brilliant fun and surprisingly easy to pick up some basic steps.  The theatre itself was very grand and a change to our usual venues!  The meal is three courses where you chose options from a set menu and unlimited drinks of your choice!  I’m sure there are shows you can go to where the food is better, but for the cost all in and size of the place this was not a bad meal.

Initially two of us ordered the Zuchine consumme for starter which we were really disappointed with so we did say something to our waitress and she immediately swapped it for something different.  So despite being a little disappointed at least the service was good and we were able to change it.  We then shared three between us, empanadas (which we had tried to avoid simply due to eating so many of them) which were really good, and two salads, also tasty.  For main we all enjoyed a steak, not the best we’ve had but certainly not the worst.  Finally we tried the Scottish Bonbon which is ice cream, dipped in chocolate and filled with dulce de leche!

All in all we had great fun for the evening at the show.